Everyday Mom's Meals

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Just In Time For Your First Summer Cookout

May has arrived bringing Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Graduation Season (yep, in only 3 weeks my first baby will walk across that stage and get his diploma) and of course, cookout/backyard barbecue season.  

Have you fired up the grill for the first time? Do you have plans for your first cookout, or maybe you've already been invited to one? Memorial Day is seen as the kickoff to summer, and it will be here before you know it. 

This recipe is sure to become your new go-to for a cookout take-along that everyone wants the recipe for. If you're hosting the gathering, you better really like every single person you invite, because after a plate of this, they are going to want to come back over and over. 

Mediterranean Pasta Salad is terrific for all your summer parties, picnics and outdoor suppers. It has to be made ahead to soak up all the flavor of the dressing, so you can assemble it totally last minute. It has some unique flavors you might have never though of for pasta salad, but I promise you will be blown away how well they play together. 

I am so excited for warm weather and all the fun outdoor activities that go with it. Pasta salad is always a hit no matter when or how you serve it, so I hope this one makes its way to your menu soon!

Why Add Dressing To Warm Pasta

When you mix the warm pasta with the Italian dressing, it acts like a sponge to soak up all that flavor. The longer it sits, the better the flavor. 

Do I Rinse The Pasta

No! Many pasta salad recipes call for rinsing under cold water and draining. Not this one! Simply drain and then leave warm. 

What Kind Of Veggies To Use

This recipe is great because the possibilities are endless when it comes to the vegetables to use. You could give it more of an Italian twist with black olives, red onion and cheese!

Where To Find Canned Artichokes and Hearts Of Palm

Both of these are normally on the canned vegetable aisle. In my store they are usually near the end of the selection, right next to each other. 

What Are Hearts Of Palm

If you've never had them, hearts of palm are a literally the inside of a palm tree. They have a slightly sweet, mild flavor. When canned, they are in a brine that is best rinsed off. They can be added to salads or eaten as is. My Hearts of Palm Salad is a delicious way to include them in your menu.

How To Store Leftover Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad will last 2-3 days in the fridge in a container with a tight fitting lid. You will want to stir every time you serve.

Best Tips

*Do not rinse pasta before adding dressing. You want the warm pasta to soak all the flavor up.

*Regular Italian dressing works fine too. I like the extra "zip" of the zesty.

*Sun-dried tomatoes can be found with the olives and pickles or on the canned tomato aisle.

*Any short-cut pasta would work: elbows, shells, rotini, etc.

 *Swap out the veggies for any you like. Some suggestions: Red onion, black olives, cherry tomatoes, green onions, sweet cherry peppers, red bell pepper, mushrooms.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

1 lb. mini penne, cooked and drained

1 (16 oz.) bottle zesty Italian dressing

1 envelope Italian dressing dry mix

1 English cucumber, diced

1 (10 oz.) jar green olives, drained

1 (8 oz.) jar sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1 (14 oz.) can whole artichokes, rinsed, drained and chopped

1 (14 oz.) can hearts of palm, rinsed, drained and chopped 

1 TBS dried parsley

In a medium bowl whisk together Italian dressing and dry Italian mix. When pasta is cooked and drained, add to a large bowl. Pour dressing over warm pasta and stir well. Chill for at least 3 hours or up to overnight. Just before serving, add all veggies and stir well. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. 

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Inspired by South Your Mouth

Sunday, April 23, 2023

My Go-To In A New Way

 Do you ever see those questions on Facebook "What's your go-to meal when you too tired to cook? Or money is tight? Or you have $20 and have to feed 5 people, what are you making?" I'm sure you have. Any time I read one, the same answer always pops into my head. Goulash. 

If you've been a fan here for any length of time, you know my recipe is about as easy as it comes, and isn't my recipe at all. It is how my mom made it, and her mom before her. It's simple, quick and cheap. Oh, and like I've said before, it is how my husband's grandma made it too, so it happens to be a recipe he grew up with as well. 

Goulash is one of those meals every family has a recipe for, and each one varies from the next. People will "throw down" that their way is the best,  and take it very seriously. What's funniest to me, is what we Americans call goulash almost always never is. Not in the traditional way that it began anyway. That's okay though, we can all have our favorite and call it whatever we want!

This version came to be when I wanted to make my go-to, but had some fresh mushrooms and shredded cheese I need to use up. (I HATE throwing food out!)  

I thought my basic goulash recipe could really be jazzed up with some sautéed mushrooms, ooey gooey mozzarella and baked in the oven. Boy was I right! This was DELISH! The boys couldn't eat it fast enough and it was even yummy warmed up the next day for my lunch. 

You could easily leave the mushrooms out, or maybe add some veggies you have in the crisper drawer that have been ignored a little too long. Zucchini, peppers or eggplant would be great too! 

Baked Goulash is a new twist on an old family favorite that might have happened on a whim, but will definitely become part of our regular rotation now. 

What Is Goulash?

Goulash is actually a Hungarian stew of meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika and other spices. The Americanized version varies a lot among families. Many of us consider goulash a pasta dish with elbow macaroni, ground beef and spaghetti sauce. Some people also refer to this as American Chop Suey!

What Kind Of Meat Goes In Goulash?

As stated above, ground beef is the #1 choice for many goulash recipes, but it is also a great one to swap for ground turkey or chicken to save a few calories! Pork sausage would be delicious in this recipe too! You could do plain, Italian or even hot for an extra kick.

What Kind Of Mushrooms?

I used sliced white button mushrooms because I had them on hand. Baby portobellos would also be very nice in this and hold up to baking very well. You can also substitute the mushrooms for other veggies if you wish.

What Kind Of Cheese?

Shredded mozzarella is perfect for this. Fresh or pre-shredded work fine. You could also use a shredded Italian cheese blend, pizza blend or even provolone.  

What Kind Of Pasta For Goulash?

Traditionally most of us make goulash with elbow macaroni, so I used that here too. Any short cut pasta would work though- small shells, rotini or even mini penne.

Baked Goulash

Baked Goulash

1 lb. elbow macaroni

1 lb. ground beef

8 oz. sliced white button mushrooms

1 (24 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce with meat

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

2 TBS grated Parmesan/Romano cheese 

1 TBS Italian seasoning

2 TBS olive oil

2 tsp. dried parsley

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Cook macaroni until al dente. In a large skillet sauté mushrooms in olive oil over medium high heat until browned. Remove to plate. In same skillet brown beef with onion and garlic until no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Return mushrooms to skillet. Add spaghetti sauce and stir well. Season with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. When pasta is cooked, drain well. Add to meat mixture. Grease 9x13 baking dish. In the bottom, add half of the pasta mixture. Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Layer in other half pasta mixture. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Baked Goulash

 Best Tips

When sautéing mushrooms, don't add salt until they are very brown. Salt pulls moisture out of them and they will stem instead of getting brown with a rich flavor. 

Ground turkey or chicken could be used instead of ground beef. 

Use your favorite spaghetti sauce brand and flavor. 

We like a Parmesan and Romano blend, but plain Parm will work too. 

Serve with garlic bread, tossed salad, fresh fruit or a nice crusty baguette.

More Pasta Bake Recipes



Sunday, April 16, 2023

Don't Skip The Frozen Food Aisle

We all wish we could cook meals from scratch every day of the week, giving our families something made from the heart that we can feel proud of. But let's face it, that kind of cooking doesn't fit into most or our lives. Sure, there are times when we can take the time to do it, and it is such a treat when we can, but most days we all need to take advantage of convenience items from the store to make supper time a little easier.

If you haven't bought a bag of frozen meatballs lately, let me tell you I am a big fan.  They come in all different varieties and range in prices depending if you're going for name brand or store brand. (I have used both and in my opinion, there isn't a big difference between them in flavor, only in price, just FYI.)

Sure, making homemade meatballs is awesome, almost an art form, but just not something I have the time or patience for most days. Frozen meatballs work just fine for my recipes and my family, and I am 100% okay with admitting that. 

Plus, since a lot of my recipes using them cook in the Crock Pot, they are even more perfect! They can go from freezer to slow cooker, with no thawing, and come out delicious every time. (You can find a few of those recipes at the bottom of this post!)

A friend told me about this recipe when we were talking about how controversial using condensed soups has become. That is a conversation for another day, but whew...people feel very strongly about it! She mentioned she loved using the French Onion variety for a great meatball recipe and I had to know more! That's when she hit me with the best detail! This recipe only has TWO ingredients. I will wait while you gather yourself....

Now, I added some fresh parsley for color and served them over some buttered egg noodles, so that added to my shopping list, but not much, and still kept things pretty budget-friendly. 

The meatballs suck up all that yummy French onion flavor and come out tender, moist and oh so good! And the noodles just love to have some of the cooking liquid poured down over them. A simple, comfort food meal any night of the week! 

If you've been walking past the frozen meatballs at the grocery store, stop and take a look and see what inspiration comes to you!

What Kind Of Meatballs To Use

For this recipe you want a bag of meatballs labeled "homestyle", not the Italian variety. 

What Kind Of Soup To Use

You can find canned French Onion Soup right next to the other condensed soups. Some stores might not carry it, but I can find it easily at Walmart

Do I Have To Thaw The Meatballs

Absolutely not! Dump that bag right into the Crock Pot, pour over the soup and you're done. As the meatballs thaw, they will add some moisture to the soup, replacing the water you would normally add, making a delicious sauce/gravy.

How To Serve French Onion Meatballs

I served these over some buttered egg noodles, but they would also be delicious sitting on top of some steamed rice. You could even serve them as a party appetizer- just sit a bowl of toothpicks or a slotted spoon next to the Crock Pot.

Crock Pot French Onion Meatballs

Crock Pot French Onion Meatballs

1 (32 oz.) bag frozen homestyle meatballs

3 (10 oz.) cans French onion soup

For serving:

Fresh parsley, chopped

2 TBS butter

1 (16 oz.) bag egg noodles, cooked and drained 

Add frozen meatballs to Crock Pot. Pour soup over. Stir well. Cook on low for 4 hours until heated through. When ready to serve, mix cooked egg noodles with better. Serve meatballs and sauce on top of noodles. Garnish with parsley. 

Crock Pot French Onion Meatballs
Shared at Weekend Potluck

Best Tips

Italian meatballs have extra spices and herbs that wouldn't pair well with the soup flavor.

After 4 hours, these will stay on the warm setting for a couple more hours nicely.

These would also be delicious served with steamed rice or mashed potatoes.

Frozen meatballs are usually next to the frozen egg rolls, lasagna, etc. in the grocery store.

I think store brand meatballs taste the same as name brand. The ones used for this recipe and photo were Great Value from Walmart


More Meatball Recipes

Crock Pot Italian Meatballs 

Meatball Pasta Bake 

 Crock Pot Hawaiian Meatballs

Crock Pot Teriyaki Meatballs 

Crock Pot Swedish Meatballs 

Crock Pot Meatball Subs


Sunday, April 2, 2023

Spring Break 2023

 Yes, the time we've been looking forward to since Christmas vacation ended is finally here. Spring Break, baby! With as excited as I am you might think we are jetting off to some warm, sunny, tropical beach, but alas no. We will be spending this time off at home, hanging out, the teenager working, fun things with the little guy, and of course celebrating Easter next week. But we are just looking forward to mornings without alarm clocks, extra time together and a relaxing week. 

Of course I have some yummy things on the menu this week too, and even though we just had them a couple weeks ago, I think these Walking Taco Nachos might need to happen again! They were a huge hit with the boys, super easy and would be great for one of the movie nights we have planned. 

Based off the walking tacos you probably had in the school cafeteria or county fair, instead of all the taco bits being in a bag of corn chips, I've transformed the same idea to a big sheet pan of nachos.

This is one of those recipes where you can start with my version and then go from there making it totally your own. You can cook the base, put out a big toppings bar and let everyone build their perfect plate. Great for a hungry crowd, especially if the crowd includes kids! A simple supper for Taco Tuesday, fun meal for Cinco de Mayo, or tasty game day food. 

If you get to enjoy spring break in the sun, watching the waves crash on the shore, lucky you. But if you're like us and trying to make the most of a stay-cation, make sure your week includes some delicious, and maybe even fun, food! 

Walking Taco Nachos

What Is A Walking Taco

Named for how easily you can walk around while eating it, walking tacos have been popular fair food for years. A small bag of corn chips is opened and then topped with taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, etc. Over the years they have also become a school cafeteria staple.  

What Kind Of Chips To Use

For these nachos I used corn chips instead of tortilla chips to keep with walking taco tradition. I used regular ones, but the big "scoop" style would be great too. 

What Toppings Are Best For Walking Taco Nachos

When it comes time to add toppings to these nachos, the sky is the limit! Use whatever you love on tacos or nachos and pile them high!

Why Less Water For The Taco Meat

For this recipe I cut back on the amount of water normally called for with taco seasoning. I wanted to make sure it wasn't extra wet to keep the chips from getting soggy.

Walking Taco Nachos

Walking Taco Nachos

2 bags corn chips

1 lb. ground beef

1 envelope taco seasoning

1/2 cup water

2 cups Mexican style shredded cheese


Diced Tomatoes

Pickled Jalapeños

 Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet brown beef until no longer pink. Add water and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Keep warm. Add chips to large rimmed baking sheet. Top with taco meat. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in oven for 10 minutes until cheese has melted. Remove and top with lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños etc. 

Walking Taco Nachos
Shared at Weekend Potluck

Best Tips

Regular or large corn chips both work for this recipe.

Remember to cut back on the water a little to avoid extra moisture.

Other cheeses to try:  pepper jack, queso blanco, sharp cheddar, triple cheddar

Other topping ideas: diced avocado, sliced black olives. taco sauce, salsa. pico de gallo, sour cream


Other Mexican Recipes To Try

Queso Chili Mac 

Creamy Taco Soup 

Fiesta Taco Rice Bake 

Taco Rice Skillet 

Crock Pot Taco Soup

Taco Spaghetti 

Smothered Burritos 



Sunday, March 26, 2023

Easter Must-Have From The Dairy

 Since I began blogging, almost 12 years ago, I have been blessed to work with countless companies and organizations. One on that list that brings me the most pride is most definitely Indiana Dairy Farmers. 

Years ago I did a monthly post for them and through that I got to know one very special local dairy farm run by the Kuehnert family. 

Kuehnert Dairy Farm


The Kuehnert Dairy Farm is celebrating 125 years of "bottling memories" (their words, not mine) and I am so incredibly proud to know this family and the work they do on the farm is amazing. The 5th generation is carrying on the family tradition and there are some big things happening on the farm!

Kuehnert Dairy Farm

Every fall the Kuehnerts open their 1200-acre farm up to the public for their annual Fall Festival, and I can tell you it is some of the best fun you will have in a corn maze, plus so much more! Both of my boys have enjoyed it and our little guy can NOT wait to go back this year! It will run from September 15-October 29, 2023 and I can tell you it is already on our calendar!

Kuehnert Dairy Farm Fall Festival

In 2023 the Kuehnert Milk House will be opening! This on-farm store will be offering the freshest milk and dairy products around; and I can NOT wait!

Kuehnert Milk House
So when my friend Sarah posted the Kuehnert family macaroni and cheese recipe, I asked her if I could share it with my readers. It was an extra cheesy, custard style old fashioned mac and cheese, unlike any other I've ever made, and I told her it would be perfect for an Easter side dish! 

This macaroni and cheese has not one, not two, but THREE cheeses for extra ooey gooey factor. My boys gobbled this down and asked for more.
I know so many families include a great mac and cheese on their Easter menu, and this one would be so tasty with that big glazed ham. But honestly, it's easy enough for any night of the week too! 
If you are in my area, I hope you will check out the Kuehnert Dairy site, maybe schedule a tour with a school class, plan a trip to the fall festival and visit the milk house when it opens. This is a great family doing great things for our community. We *heart* our dairy farmers!
What Kind Of Cheese To Use 
This recipe calls for three different cheeses, and it is a great way to use up whatever you have in the fridge. I used cheddar, cheddar jack and mozzarella for an extra smooth flavor. 

Do I Have To Boil The Macaroni First
Yes, for this recipe the elbows have to be cooked to just al dente before baked. If you're looking for a no-boil recipe, I have one of those too, just scroll down to the end of the page!

Should I Shred My Own Cheese
When it comes to shredded cheese in a bag, people have strong opinions. If I am making a homemade cheese sauce I always shred my own, but for a recipe like this, I don't have any issues using pre-shredded.

Can I Use Milk In Place Of Evaporated Milk

The simple answer is no. Evaporated milk has a thicker texture than regular and therefore can't be swapped same for same. If you need to substitute it, try 3/4 cup whole milk mixed with 1/4 cup half-and-half. This recipe actually uses both evaporated and regular, and both are needed for the best texture.

Baked Three-Cheese Macaroni

Best Tips

Make sure to not overcook the macaroni. You want a little bite left (al dente) so it can finish cooking in the oven.

Don't try to use all regular milk. The evaporated milk really helps to make this extra creamy.

Use any combo of cheeses you like, that add up to 6 cups total. 

This is great frozen too. Bake, cool and cut into individual portions to reheat later.  

You can also prepare this in the Crock Pot. Mix all ingredients except 1/2 cup cheese and paprika in a greased Crock Pot. Add cheese and paprika. Cook on low for 3 hours.

Baked Three-Cheese Macaroni

 Baked Three-Cheese Macaroni

8 oz. elbow macaroni

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded cheddar-jack cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 (12 oz.) can evaporate milk

1 1/2 cups milk

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 eggs, beaten

Salt and Pepper

Dash of paprika

Fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Cook macaroni to al dente and drain well. In a large bowl combine pasta with all other ingredients. Stir well. Transfer to a greased 9x13 baking dish. Cook for 50 minutes until set. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Baked Three-Cheese Macaroni
Shared at Weekend Potluck


More Mac and Cheese Recipes To Try

Sheet Pan Macaroni and Cheese

No-Boil Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Copycat Cracker Barrel Macaroni and Cheese

Pub Macaroni and Cheese

Stove-Top Creamy Macaroni and Cheese 

Mac and Cheese Cupcakes 

Queso Chili Mac 

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese